Yesterday began the 2010 Prospect Camp for the New Jersey Devils. There are 43 players on the roster, and I went over those who are new to the Devils prospect camp this summer yesterday. I've updated it with a little more information on Matt Lombardi and Bryan Haczyk this morning so please check that out if you haven't.
Today, I want to go over the 26 prospects who aren't new to the Devils' prospect camp. Some are minor league players looking to establish that they still have potential for the future. Some are prospects who want to show what they've learned over the past year. A few prospects need to have a strong showing here to have a better shot in September's training camp in getting a spot on the New Jersey roster. Lou Lamoriello told Tom Gulitti yesterday that he expects a few of the players here in this camp to do just that:
Lamorello expects some of the players among the 43 in the prospects camp to play in the NHL team in 2010-11.
"I would be disappointed if out of this group here if two or three weren’t on our starting roster," he said.
Before you start penciling any names in the roster, I'd like to point out that no one has earned a spot on the team coming out of prospect camp. I'm sure Lou and his staff are looking closer at certain players with higher expectations. This means it falls on the players to meet those expectations by impressing the staff in drills, meetings, and scrimmages.
In any case, I felt it would be best to organize the other 26 prospects based on what should be expected going into camp. Not everyone is in the same situation and some players have a more realistic chance of advancement ahead of others. That will follow after the jump:
First, an interlude, here's a brief bit on five Devils prospects who aren't here at this camp:
The Prospects Who Aren't At This Camp: David Wohlberg, Mike Hoeffel, Seth Helgeson, Derek Rodwell, Vladimir Zharkov
Admittedly, given that he played 40 games last season, it's hard to classify Zharkov as a prospect. Still, he's on his rookie contract and would be eligible to attend. The reason he's not here is the same reason why the other four in this group aren't: school. According to Gulitti, Lou said that all of them have some academic reason for not attending. Wohlberg, Hoeffel, Helgeson, and Rodwell are all NCAA prospects and would likely remain in college for 2010-11, so I wouldn't be concerned about their absence. Zharkov's fight to keep his roster spot in New Jersey wouldn't be in this prospect camp anyway. That will come in September. All the same, I wish them the best of luck to all of them in their studies.
Since they're not here, Lou has invited more players to participate and it's no accident that some are local. From my limited understanding of NCAA eligibility rules, a college player has to pay their own way to participate in one of these camps. So even if these players didn't have academic reasons, they may not have been able to attend for those reasons. Getting local players, who presumably could stay local for a week, makes sense in this regard. Besides, the Devils may get a closer look at a player they may have scouted but not seriously enough to give him a contract just yet.
Now, the prospects who are at this camp:
Lerg ended up with Trenton last season after four years at Michigan State. He was signed by the team, suffered injuries to both his knees which limited his action, gave a detailed interview to Mike Ashmore, and he got 2 games and by looking at the numbers, they didn't go so well. Still, he returns in the hopes of learning more. For his own sake, I hope his knees are OK and he's able to get more playing time in Trenton next season. Felice is a local player and isn't really a prospect. He was at last year's camp as an extra goalie and that's what he's probably here in camp for again. He did get a game last season with Trenton as an emergency backup, and was the subject of this intriguing article of the NY Daily News.
Frazee is here again, here to show that he's learned much and that he's still worthy of being considered as a potential goalie-of-the-future. He'll have to win back the starting role in Albany first. I wouldn't even think about the NHL until he can do just that. Still, a good showing at this camp can go a long way of showing management that he still has potential to take it to the next level.
All of these players finished up their respective college and junior careers in this past season and will likely move on to minor league hockey for next season. In fact, McIntyre and Berube were already signed by Lowell last season and got a few games in (12 regular, 5 playoff for McIntyre; 1 playoff game for Berube). Between the two, I'm more impressed by McIntyre finishing up a solid college career with Colgate, going to Lowell right away, and contributing on the scoresheet. Berube joined later after Rouyn-Noranda's playoff run in the QMJHL; his numbers from junior may not be impressive but that he jumped into AHL right away bodes well for his future. Short of wowing everyone here and again in September, they will likely go to Albany in 2010-11.
The other four are defensemen. Kelly was signed right out of the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, and he figures to be a defensive defenseman. You may know Young as the captain of the Windsor Spitfires who rolled through the OHL and Memorial Cup for two straight years. He will move on to the next level and also figures to be a defensive defenseman. Miller and Fayne both graduated from Northern Michigan and Providence, respectively. All four will definitely use this camp to show that they are ready for professional hockey and hopefully in Albany as opposed to
The Prospects Who Just Need to Show They Improved: Brandon Burlon, Curtis Gedig, Corbin McPherson, Eric Gelinas
These four defensemen aren't going to get a job in pro hockey this summer. Burlon didn't make to last year's camp due to injury; but he'll be going right back to Michigan for 2010-11. As the 2008 second round draft pick of the team, it's good that he's here to show off what he has learned so far in college hockey. He's got potential, but I agree with Brian of MGoBlog here: I do hope Burlon can breakout as a junior in the coming season. He's not the only soon-to-be-junior at camp. Colgate's Corbin McPherson will also be a junior; he's coming off a sophomore season where he scored his first goal in college hockey and made the all-academic team in the ECAC. Gedig is an Ohio State commit and will go there next season from Vernon of the BCHL. While all three of those players will go back to college, Eric Gelinas will likely go back to the QMJHL for another season with Chicoutimi. He signed an entry level deal with the Devils back in May, so they will let him develop at his own pace.
All of these players have played in Lowell to some degree last season. Taormina is one of the 15 defenseman prospects here but he put up a large number of points for Lowell in 09-10. Given how lacking the defense has been in terms of production, perhaps that is enough to warrant a closer look if he has a good performance. In fact, you can apply that qualifier to everyone on this list.
Some of these players have gotten more attention than others (Vasyunov got a good look in camp last season, Palmieri actually played in some NHL games last season); but all need to do well here to give management a reason to look at them longer in training camp. That's really the goal since only Mills and Swift play a position of need for the Devils - center - on this list. Despite how well they did for Lowell last season, even those two could be long shots given some of the other center prospects at this camp much less who will be there in September. Again, expect these guys to work real hard to keep their NHL hopes alive.
The following prospects, however, have a better chance for a variety of reasons:
The Prospect Who Really Wanted to Be Here: Matthew Corrente
According to Gulitti, Lou said that Corrente was eligible and Corrente himself said that he wanted to be here. His attitude is admirable. Especially since Lou sees Corrente as a defenseman, thinks highly of his chances of making the NHL team, and could be one of those few players that he expects to see in New Jersey come October. Just like Niclas Bergfors last summer, the time is now for Corrente to prove he's ready for the NHL. Yes, he had 12 games with New Jersey and 2 playoff games - as a forward and with limited minutes in most of those games. This guarantees nothing. I think he needs to do well here and stand out among the 15 defensemen in this camp; anything less should be a cause for concern. That will be tricky since two of them are also well regarded in the system. Though, I'm not sure why one of them is here:
The Prospect Whose Presence Makes Me Scratch My Head: Tyler Eckford.
Don't get me wrong. Eckford is one of the defenseman higher up on the depth chart. He got a couple games in the NHL last year (3 GP, 1 assist) and he showed improvement in his second year of pro hockey in Lowell. Since he seems to be a two-way defenseman, I think he would have an outside chance to fight for a roster spot in September given the lack of them in New Jersey. A good showing here would help confirm his status in the pecking order. My only concern is that he isn't signed. Per CapGeek, he's still a restricted free agent. Granted, he was qualified, but why go to camp and play without a new deal in place? Is he hoping to do so well that the Devils would give him a one-way deal? Is something agreed in principle and so he's not concerned about his current status? Is his deal about to be completed during camp? I mean, I get why I don't see Patrick Davis on the camp roster since he's in the same situation. So why is Eckford taking part?
The Prospect With the Most Options: Alexander Urbom
Urbom came to the WHL for his first (and possibly only) season of Canadian major junior league hockey and did quite well. He was part of a strong Brandon Wheat Kings team that went all the way to the Memorial Cup final before being steamrolled by the Windsor juggernaut. His hopes seemingly increased when Lou said that one of the reasons Henrik Tallinder was signed was so he could mentor someone like Urbom; and even referred to him as "our top prospect." However, I don't think we should immediately expect him to be in Newark on opening night. Urbom's not even 20 and he is coming off of one (1) season of playing in North America. The big questions for the Devils are: Is Urbom ready to take the next step, and if so, how big of a step should it be? Urbom will help the Devils answer both in this camp. Fortunately, because he did play some pro hockey in the SEL, he is eligible to play with Albany so he's not in a New Jersey-or-bust situation. He has options, unlike most of the other prospects.
Both Josefson and Tedenby were signed by New Jersey back in May and I offered my reasoning as to why we could see them in New Jersey at that time. Henrique has gotten a lot of buzz for being part of a dominant Windsor team, being a part of Canada at the WJCs, and playing a position of need for the Devils: center. Per Gulitti, all three are hopeful; Henrique said so in this interview with Gulitti and the two Swedes had similar thoughts in this post.
Among these three, Tedenby has the most difficult path since there are a lot of wings in the system and on the roster. What helps is that few have his offensive upside and his speed. Given that New Jersey hasn't addressed their third line center spot, perhaps they are waiting to see how Henrique and Josefson do here and in training camp this September. At the same time, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if all three went to Albany, though. New Jersey can pick up a veteran late to fill in the spot and all three can learn the professional game (Henrique to play against men; Tedenby and Josefson to get acclimated to North American hockey) at the same time. There's nothing stopping the Devils from calling either up if they do well. Still, the hope is that they can make it and I can't help but feel that all parties involved - the players, management, and even some fans - have that same hope.
But, of course, the first step is to show that they are deserving of that hope is to do well at this camp. There are no guarantees for anyone in this camp.
This concludes my look at the Devils prospects camp roster. I wish all involved in the camp to do their best, to stay healthy, and to keep working on their game so we may see you sometime in the future - at the Rock and on the ice. Thank you for reading and do follow Gulitti for all the latest prospects camp news, he's on fire in addition to writing at Fire & Ice.
Who do you hope makes the team? Who do you think will be the big surprise at the prospects camp? Don't you wish the Devils would announce the public scrimmage already? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.